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From Missouri Conservationist: Mar 2010

No MOre Trash! Bash in April

Spring into action during April and help clean up Missouri as part of the 2010 No MOre Trash! Bash. This month-long litter-prevention celebration is sponsored by the Missouri departments of Conservation and Transportation and encourages people to help clean up Missouri’s streams, roadsides and other outdoor areas by picking up litter. Last year thousands of volunteers from all across Missouri collected more than 111,000 bags of trash from Missouri’s streams, roadways and other outdoor areas to help make the Trash Bash a success and keep Missouri beautiful. For more information about how you can help, including 2010 No MOre Trash! Bash registration information and details, visit the link listed below.

New Member of Top Leadership

The newest member of the Conservation Department’s top leadership has practiced conservation in places as distant as Africa but formed the ambition to work in Missouri while still in college.

Missouri Department of Conservation Director Bob Ziehmer recently announced his choice of Ozark Regional Forestry Supervisor Tom Draper as the agency’s deputy director—resource management. In this new capacity Draper oversees the Fisheries, Forestry, Private Land Services, Protection, Resource Science and Wildlife divisions.

Draper worked with the Liberian Forest Development Authority as a Peace Corps volunteer after graduating from college. After that, he worked for the South Dakota Division of Forestry for 11 years. He returned to Missouri in 1989 and has had assignments including forest products marketing specialist, assistant district forester, district forester and regional forester.

Draper enjoys floating and wade-fishing Ozark streams and hunting upland birds and deer, though he says his enjoyment increasingly comes from “being out there,” rather than how much game he brings home.

“I hunt public land, and I find myself wondering how an area where I worked years before is doing. I spend an hour or so sitting in a stand and then I go check on how that land is responding to management activities. I spend a lot of time walking around, checking on things, and if I see a deer, that’s fine.”

Managed Turkey Hunts

Turkey hunters have until March 11 to apply for managed hunts at August A. Busch, Bois D’Arc, Caney Mountain and Weldon Spring conservation areas and at Current River State Park and Smithville Lake. These hunting opportunities are allocated by random drawing. All 18 hunts are listed in the spring turkey hunting information guide, which is available from permit vendors or online.

In addition to the 12 events open to all hunters, this year’s offerings include managed hunts for archers, youths age 11 through 15 and for persons with disabilities. All take place during the youth turkey season April 10 and 11 or the regular turkey season April 19 through May 9. Participants in some managed hunts must complete a pre-hunt orientation. Hunters are urged not to apply for these hunts if they cannot attend the orientation.

Nature Center Hours Adjust

Missouri’s conservation nature centers are reducing their hours of operation to economize and maintain top-quality services. Reductions vary by facility, but all six will make adjustments in hours or days of operation or both.

The reductions are part of the Conservation Department’s commitment to keeping the agency on a sound financial footing well into the future. Trimming hours of operation and associated expenses, such as personnel costs, will enable CNCs to maintain the high-quality programs and services most important to the public. New hours went into effect Jan. 1 at the Cape Girardeau CNC. Other CNC’s new hours will begin March 1. For details, visit the link listed below or call:

  • Burr Oak Woods, Blue Springs, (816) 228-3766.
  • Cape Girardeau, (573) 290-5218.
  • Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center, Kansas City, (816) 759-7300.
  • Powder Valley, Kirkwood, (314) 301-1500.
  • Runge, Jefferson City, (573) 526-5544.
  • Springfield, (417) 888-4237.

Deer Harvest Totals

A record archery harvest and a strong late-season effort by firearms hunters brought Missouri’s 2009-2010 deer harvest to nearly 300,000.

Bowhunters set new records for both deer and turkey harvest, shooting 51,972 deer between Sept. 15 and Jan. 15. That is the first time in the archery season’s 64-year history that the harvest has topped 50,000. Archers also checked a record 3,298 wild turkeys. Experts attribute archers’ success to better equipment and a growing bowhunting tradition that has increased archery skills.

Difficult weather plagued hunters during the opening weekend of the November firearms deer hunt, causing the harvest for those two days to fall 12,000 deer short of the previous year’s harvest. The November portion closed with a modest harvest of 193,155.

However, strong harvests during every other segment of the firearms season produced a surprisingly large end-of-season tally. Hunters checked nearly twice as many deer during the four-day urban portion of the firearms deer season as they did the previous year. Youths checked almost 3,000 more deer in the early youth hunt than in 2008. The antlerless portion topped the previous year by more than 7,000, and muzzleloader hunters set a new record during their portion of the firearms season. Young hunters closed the firearms season by shooting 1,706 deer during the late youth portion, in spite of brutally cold weather. The final firearms deer harvest of 247,409, combined with the archery kill pushed the 2009–2010 harvest to 299,461.

Canada Goose Management Working

Restoration of giant Canada geese in Missouri and the Mississippi Flyway is one of the great success stories of the 20th century. Keeping their numbers within limits acceptable to human residents of the region is likely to be one of the success stories of the 21st century. The big birds’ numbers climbed steadily throughout the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s, reaching a peak of about 75,000 birds in Missouri in 2000. Complaints about nuisance geese and concerns about a rapidly growing population prompted the Conservation Department to open an early hunting season, conduct goose roundups and offer property owners solutions, such as oiling or shaking eggs to reduce goose numbers to acceptable levels in some areas. These efforts successfully stabilized the population at levels between 50,000 and 70,000 throughout the 2000s. The Mississippi Flyway population also plateaued during this period as other states dealt with their nuisance goose problems. The Conservation Department may allow hunters to harvest more geese in the future if numbers do not remain in check, but carefully measured management will ensure that watching Vs of majestic giant Canada geese crossing the landscape continues to be part of Missourian’s outdoor legacy.

Invasive Species Challenges

Since the first Missouri sightings of Eurasian collared doves 10 or 15 years ago, the exotic birds have spread across the entire state. They are found almost exclusively around grain elevators, bird feeders and other artificial food sources. So far, they don’t seem to be competing significantly with native mourning doves. However, their spread from Florida to British Columbia in less than 30 years illustrates the danger posed by invasive species. Once invaders become established in the wild, little can be done to eradicate them. Exotic birds, fish, mammals, reptiles and amphibians should be maintained carefully to prevent escape and never deliberately released. Unlike the Eurasian collared dove, the next exotic invasive could have devastating ecological effects and no remedy.

This Issue's Staff

Editor In Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair Terrill
Art Director - Cliff White
Writer/Editor - Tom Cwynar
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Circulation - Laura Scheuler